Saturday, April 12, 2008


Some of the campaign team (Phil Wilson MP second from the right) out in Middridge village on Saturday morning

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may have formed the opinion that there is nothing I like better than sinking my teeth into the pale white hides of Liberal Democrats. Politically speaking, that is. And for the most part, you'd be absolutely right.

But there is another class of politician for whom I reserve a special and particular contempt. They are so-called Labour Independents.

To be clear, I have nothing against genuine independents, although at the district and county level they sometimes are politicians who 'dare not speak their name' - left-leaning in Tory areas and the mirror opposite in Labour territory. Where overtly flying your political badge would be tantamount to hari-kiri.

No, the characters I'm referring to are people who were happy enough to accept the Labour shilling when selected and sit as Labour councillors, but who suddenly discovered a deep contempt for the Party when local members had the temerity to conclude that they were rubbish, and duly selected someone else. They then spend all their time slagging off Labour in the local press. It's scant consolation that they normally get found out by the electors in the fullness of time. In the intervening period, they damage the Party and IMHO bring politics into disrepute. I loathe them.

Anyway, rant over. Just to the north of us, in Newton Aycliffe and Shildon, there's a nest of them, who came back into my consciousness after this ridiculous story in the Echo recently.

So I intend to spend some time with colleagues over the next few weeks assisting with the Labour effort. And it was a pleasure to be out on Saturday in the Greenfield Middridge area to help my old friend Brian Stephens and long-standing local councillor Dorothy Bowman.

We were joined by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, and my team knocked on almost every door in Middridge. Despite some rather *ahem* challenging national polls at the moment, we got a very good reception, and I only found one person who said they were definitely voting for an opposition candidate. Certainly, Dorothy Bowman has been an excellent hard-working Councty Councillor, attested by everyone who spoke to me.

It was a really positive morning.


Ian White, said...


Is that Phil (I will save Croft post office) Wilson but then vote against it? The good friend of Alan (I will save Darlington post offices) Milburn then vote against it?
But come to pigeon poo pull out every stop!
So on your theme of true independance would you say they voted independantly re: post office closures or like good boys did what they were told?
Just curious!

Anonymous said...

The contempt for the party is most probably based on the total lack of leadership.
It is evident that your own politicions are manoevering into a position to "out" Gordon.
You are teetering on the brink of losing the London mayoral elections and you are way behind in the polls.
Why then should local councillors support Labour??
As Ian said. What is the point in staying loyal to the National Party when their MPs totally disregard the views of the local electorate.
You are dillussional if you think that the electorate will stick by you, just because they "always have"
You used the word "loathe"
Loathing is for murderers, sex offenders etc. Not a word used to describe colleagues within the political world, whatever their persuassion.
I think you are rattled, and on the run.
Target your venom towards the Labour leadership, out of touch, unable to translate his beliefs into policies and allowing the Chinese Secret Service to police the streets of London.
He has been pathetic.
I have been a loyal supporter of labour, but swaying towards the Conservatives. How are you going to persuade me to vote Labour??

Darlington Councillor said...

Firstly, Ian, I think Alan and Phil's positions have been misrepresented by the opposition and the right-wing press. As Government supporters, they are in agreement that the massive haemorraging of money at the Post Office needs to be addressed, and that there should be a review of the Post Office network.

As good constituency MP's, however, they of course have a view about the draft plans to close certain post offices in their constituencies, and after receiving feedback from local residents, have made representations. Thus it is completely consistent to both contribute to the consultation process whilst voting with the Government in the Commons recently on the wider issue.

I was struck by the comments of the postmistress at the Simpasture Post Office recently however, who complained about the Government's stance. The Northern Echo reported her as saying;

She said: "Initially when I was told Mr Wilson had voted against the resolution I was outraged, particularly because he has been so supportive of our campaign.

"But I have spoken with him and read the Tories' resolution and think he was right not to vote with them, I would have done the same if I was sat in Parliament.

"It wanted to postpone closures for six months which I couldn't have coped with, we've had months of this upset already and putting it off doesn't help anyone.

"There was no solution put forward, just an attempt to gain some brownie points. The Tories also went against the £150m subsidy of the network which would mean even more than 2,500 post offices would close - we worked out just town centre branches would be left.

"Mr Wilson and I have always agreed that some post offices need to close and we need to fight to make sure it is the right ones, not branches like mine where the community is desperate to keep it."

As for anonymous - yes I agree that "loathe " is a strong word, but I'm entitled to my feelings. In fact, anyone who knows me will probably attest that I generally have very good relations with colleagues of all persuasions on Darlington Borough Council, but that approach would certainly be tested if any of my Labour colleagues tried to pass themselves off as independents after being deselected because they weren't up to the job, and then did a hatchet job on the party that had helped secure their election previously.

These characters in Newton Aycliffe jumped ship at least three years ago (and possibly longer) so their emergence certainly pre-dates the current political scene. Just as I believe you have misunderstood the position of Labour MP's as Ian has done, I don't believe anything of importance can be read into their stance against Labour.

And I certainly don't believe that Labour (or any other party for that matter) can simply sit back and wait for the votes to roll in - these days more than ever political parties have to work hard to persuade an often-sceptical public why we merit their support. That's good, and why I was out in Middridge last Saturday trying to get Labour's message across.

Ian White, said...

I fully understand that any business cannot run at a constant loss, however (and Im sure every supporter of whatever post office branch will say the same) I feel Croft's is a slightly different situation, it has been running at a loss mostly due to the loss of residents at Linden Court and all their benefits and custom, now that it is about to reopen Croft PO should return to "business as Usual" and yes there is another PO further down the village but for the old and disabled it is a long up hill trek, and yes I know what a bus is but out here they are as reliable as a sundial, it seem to all I have spoken with, that phil offered his support then voted against it, thats a fact, dress it up as you will but thats what happened.